SPORTS

Soccer cup final to be played behind closed doors

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Soccer

The government announced on Monday that the Greek Cup final on Saturday at the Olympic Stadium of Athens between holder PAOK and AEK will be played behind closed doors.

There will only be a few hundred invitations forwarded to each club – reports speak of as many as 500 each – and another set handed to the Hellenic Football Federation for its own commitments. Up to 1,500 people are expected to see the final from the stands.

In a statement on Monday Deputy Minister for Sports Giorgos Vassiliadis confirmed what had been rumored for days, acknowledging the authorities’ inability to ensure the security of the final, citing recent tension between the two clubs’ hardcore fans.

This follows violent clashes between PAOK and AEK hooligans in the two previous finals of the Cup, in 2017 in Volos and in 2018 at the Olympic Stadium.

The government’s decision follows the recommendations by the police and the Permanent Commission Against Violence, which warned of scheduled clashes between hardcore fans of PAOK and AEK as well as possible provocation by third parties.

Despite the opposition to this decision by the two sets of fans, that are now deprived of attending the year’s showcase game, the two clubs had quietly agreed with playing behind closed doors, as that would ensure they would not get penalized for the action of their fans, as has been the case time and again in the past.

Especially in PAOK’s case, if its fans engaged in the usual warfare with rival fans or the police that the Cup finals have witnessed, thatt might entail a deduction of up to six points from their league tally, thereby depriving the Thessaloniki club of its league title, won with a five-point margin from Olympiakos.

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